Artist Spotlight: Yam Jewelry
Can you introduce yourself for us - who you are, where you’re from, what you do...
My name is Morgan Thomas, I'm a Bay Area native and I'm a jewelry designer.
What's your zodiac sign?
I am a virgo and very much one.
How did you get your start in jewelry design?
This is a question I never know how to answer. I have been making jewelry as a hobby for the majority of my life but it began to fully develop two years ago. My mom thought it would be a fun activity and we started making it together when I was young. In elementary school, my friend and I started selling jewelry under the name Artsy to parents, school faculty and members at my church. As I got older, I would make items for family, friends and myself, but mostly replicating things I wanted to buy from stores. After graduating from college and working at a restaurant in my neighborhood, a customer asked if I was interested in making some jewelry for an art auction in Queens. I spent days designing three pairs of earrings and realized it was something I wanted to take more seriously.
How and where do you find inspiration?
I like to pull a lot of my visuals from childhood, my family and the body of work I was working on in college. My mom passed away in college and I started making artwork about her passing which proved to be very therapeutic process for me. Yam is an extension of the art I have been working on for the past few years, just in a different medium.
What’s your favorite part about the design process?
I love sourcing new materials. I will browse the internet for hours (HOURS) looking at vintage beads and will have at least 15 tabs open.
Who are some other artists/designers/brands you look up to?
I love WWAKE, Nandi Naya and Georgina Trevino. The amount of detail in every WWAKE piece is incredible. All their pearls, diamonds and opals are ethically sourced and every bit of functionality is beautifully handled. I found Nandu Naya when I first started making jewelry and loved the simple, yet bold silhouettes. She has a true respect for materials and everything seems to have an imprint of her touch. Georgina Trevino, to me, creates found object ear sculptures. I love the materiality and play of jewelry elements out of context. Also her jewelry saw skills are on point.
Any words of wisdom for fellow makers or peers looking to get their business off the ground?
I would say research and not just from the computer. Before I started selling I interviewed women jewelry designers about their experiences in the industry. You can’t google everything. There are just things that only run word of mouth.
What is a dream project/goal for you?
I would love to create hardware for apparel or other accessories (purses, belts etc). Also venturing off into more costume/stage items. I had a job right after college making headpieces for people attending burning man and really enjoyed figuring out the construction of items.
Your top 3 ritual shoppe product picks...
1. Incense Matches - I love incenses and always keep these around my apartment
3. The Abstract Flora Scarf - I'm known for wearing scarves as headbands and love the palette on this one